George Wallace Jardine Collection

The Liverpool University Art Gallery, No. 3 Abercromby Square
13th May - 16th July 2004

Reviewed by E. Hughes

The downstairs room, the room that really welcomes you to the gallery, is like the most elegant mid-Georgian tearoom you could ever hope to find yourself in. On show are mostly lesser known artists and paintings, like Jack Coburn Witherup’s ‘St Ives Waterfront with beached boats’ and Peter De Wint’s ‘Cookham on Thames’. Also there are paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby, who worked in Liverpool between 1768 and 1771. Exhibited are his paintings of Charles Goore, a Liverpool ship owner, and also the daughter of a prominent Liverpool slave trading family, the Ashtons. There is also interestingly enough a painting from the Rembrandt school, the artist whose name escapes me, but I recognised the Rembrandt styling straight away. This is a very nice little gallery, and though packed into what is more or less a small house, is quite spacious and covers a lot of artists work.

There are paintings here by Augustus John, two of which are ‘Professor Sir Charles Reilly’ and ‘Professor Oliver Elton’ who were both esteemed professors at Liverpool University. There are also many old pieces of furniture, chairs, dressers and the like and a nice line in Orthodox Greek and Russian religious Ikon paintings, some dating from the 16th century. Equally, there are beautifully presented collections of pottery and plates, including Dutch and local Liverpool pieces.

Then to the star presentation, George Wallace Jardine. I have never heard of this artist before, but he was a local artist, from Wallasey on the Wirral. His pieces are eclectic to say the least, especially ‘the Green Man’ and ‘Collage on Mirror’, which is made up of seashells and doll-like faces. I personally liked the ‘Portrait of the Artist’s Father’ which beautifully and realistically captures the essence of the man, and also the ‘Portrait of June’, a model who worked with the artist and appears in many of his paintings. Many of his works are fantastical and otherworldly, and I detect have allusions to classic literature here and there. He has created new worlds, his own dreamtime.

Many art galleries can be impersonal, even intimidating; this little art gallery is homely, and has been set out to get the maximum from a quite a small space, whilst using to the full the space in a way that is well presented, elegant and timeless. This place is definitely worth a visit or two, and is a hidden treasure well worth seeking out.